Crest urges Clearwire ditch Sprint deal after Dish bid

Thu May 30, 2013 2:32pm EDT
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By Sinead Carew and Liana B. Baker

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crest Financial, one of the biggest minority shareholders in Clearwire Corp, on Thursday urged the wireless company to recommend against Sprint Nextel Corp's buyout offer after Dish Network Corp made a counter bid.

Crest, which holds about 8 percent of Clearwire shares, said Clearwire should open itself to competitive bidding, and said even though Dish's bid appears superior it may still prove inadequate to shareholders.

Clearwire is expected to postpone its shareholder vote on Sprint's $3.40 per share offer after Dish's counter bid of $4.40 per share, according to two sources familiar with the situation who asked not to be named.

Clearwire said its board would review the latest offer, but has not confirmed if it will adjourn the shareholders meeting.

The new offer further muddies the waters in what was already a complicated consolidation scenario in which Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen is competing against Japan's SoftBank Corp to buy Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider.

Sprint is the majority owner of Clearwire.

Some analysts speculated as to whether the Clearwire bid meant Dish would be happy with an investment in the smaller company or a spectrum purchase from Clearwire.

Dish said it was not backing down from its bid for Sprint. "Our Clearwire offer in no way diminishes our interest or vision for a combined Dish/Sprint," a Dish spokesman said.   Continued...

People walk past a Sprint store in New York December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly